LAURINBURG — For the third time this season, the Scotland girls basketball team met rival Richmond on the hardwood.
And for a third time, the Scots downed their rivals to the west, the latest coming in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Scotland jumped out to an early 10-0 lead and never allowed the Raiders to close within double-digits the rest of the way, winning 66-48 to advance to the championship round of the conference tourney.
The Scots, who earned a share of the SEC regular season title, will battle fellow co-champion Lumberton Friday in the finals. The Pirates cruised past Hoke 69-34 in the other semifinal tilt.
“I think we played with a little bit more energy, I think we felt like we had a point to prove,” Scotland head coach Janie Hodges said. “We got off to a good start.”
Wednesday’s battle between the two rivals was the second time in the past five days they played, but the result was far different than Saturday’s regular-season finale. Scotland blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead in that one and held on for a 52-46 victory, but the outcome was never in doubt this time around.
Scotland jumped out to a 21-5 lead after the first quarter, taking advantage of Richmond turnovers in the half court which led to transition layups. Guards Ashlyn Dial and ShanQaylia Stanton showed good vision and found Amaya Pegues sprinting down the court after several Raider mistakes, and Pegues converted the shots in the paint.
“They made some athletic plays,” Hodges said. “She made some good catches with some great finishes. We work on that everyday in practice, so it was good to see it transfer over into a game.”
Scotland endured a minor offensive lull in the second quarter and nursed a 28-13 halftime advantage, but that lead ballooned to as many 21. The Scots held a 48-30 advantage after the third period, and finished the game with few hiccups in the fourth.
Stanton paced Scotland with 16, Dial scored 15 points and Pegues added 12. Zelda McLaughlin led Richmond with 16.
Scotland will host Lumberton Friday at 7 p.m.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.